Jobless Claims Fall to Lowest Level Since 1968

April 7, 2022 – The Labor Department reported that 166,000 Americans have filed new claims for state unemployment benefits, a decrease of 5,000 from the previous week’s revised level and the lowest level since 1968. The previous week’s level was revised down by 31,000 from 202,000 to 171,000. The four-week moving average was 170,000, a decrease of 8,000 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised down by 30,500 from 208,500 to 178,000.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.1 percent for the week, unchanged from the previous week’s revised rate. The previous week’s rate was revised up by 0.2 from 0.9 to 1.1 percent. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week was 1,523,000, an increase of 17,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up 199,000 from 1,307,000 to 1,506,000. The four-week moving average was 1,541,250, a decrease of 35,250 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised up by 187,500 from 1,389,000 to 1,576,500.

“In times of relative economic stability, the multiplicative option is generally preferred over the additive option,” the Labor Department said Thursday. “However, in the presence of a large level shift in a time series, multiplicative seasonal adjustment factors can result in systematic over- or under-adjustment of the series; in such cases, additive seasonal adjustment factors are preferred since they tend to track seasonal fluctuations more accurately in the series and have smaller revisions.”

“No wonder inflation is out of control, the labor market is at full employment where the costs go up astronomically for companies to bring new workers in to run the factories and work the cash registers across the country,” Chris Rupkey, chief economist at FWDBONDS, wrote in a note earlier this week. “The cost of living crisis is aided and abetted by the worst labor shortage that America has ever faced. Waiting for more workers to join the labor force and ‘participate’ in order to bring down wages and inflation is a pipe dream.”

Moving Past the Pandemic

“The labor market appears to be moving past the pandemic, rapidly closing in on a complete recovery,” Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, wrote in a note. “Even as the labor market is tight, suggesting optimism about economic conditions, a four-decade high in prices is tempering expectations. Even as consumer balance sheets are healthy and virus concerns are facing, there are downside risks that could weigh on household and economic activity more broadly going forward.”

Related: 5 Actions Business Leaders Can Take as War In Ukraine Deepens

The latest weekly jobless claims data comes on the heels of another solid monthly jobs report from the Labor Department, which showed a significant rise in hirings and a drop in the jobless rate to a near 50-year low. Non-farm payrolls grew by 431,000 in March, while the unemployment rate improved by a greater-than-expected margin to 3.6 percent. And as of last month, the U.S. labor market was just about 1.6 million payrolls short of its pre-pandemic levels.

Hiring Outlook

Strong hiring optimism continues into the second quarter of 2022, according to the Q2 ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey of 41,000 employers. Employers in 36 of 40 countries report stronger hiring intentions than this time last year with greatest demand in IT, finance, and manufacturing. Demand for skilled workers remains at record highs as employers seek to attract and retain the best, diverse talent as employers embrace the post-pandemic era.

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“Labor markets around the world are looking strong for Q2, with hiring outlooks back at pre-pandemic levels in most countries,” said Jonas Prising, chairman and CEO of ManpowerGroup. “Any impact of the Ukraine crisis is not reflected in employer hiring intentions. While Poland and neighboring countries are dealing with the humanitarian crisis, we must be poised to help resettlement and employment efforts for refugees, adapting roles and requirements to fill vacancies and create new opportunities.”

“At ManpowerGroup we are working fast to leverage our experience integrating refugees into labor markets from other countries – for example from Syria to Germany, Afghanistan to U.S. – and to adapt and scale reskilling and upskilling programs specifically targeted to this population,” said Mr. Prising. “Now is the time for collaboration between employers and governments to make it as fast and simple as possible to integrate refugees into the workforce so they can earn a living, contribute to society, and most importantly feel welcomed in their new surroundings.”

Related: Major Paradigm Shifts Coming Out of the Coronavirus Crisis

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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